One of Brazil’s best-preserved colonial cities, Olinda is located on the country’s Atlantic Coast in the northeastern state of Pernambuco. Founded by the Portuguese in the early 16th century, the city served as the state’s capital until it was burned by the Dutch, thereafter losing its sovereignty to its nearby neighbor, Recife.
Perched on a picturesque hilltop surrounded by trees, Olinda’s historic downtown is a treasure trove of colonial churches, colorful old houses, restaurants, museums and numerous artisan studios. Because of its love affair with art, Olinda packs many shops and markets selling paintings, ceramics, sculptures and handicrafts.
Every year, Olinda hosts its lively Carnival celebration that differs somewhat from those of Rio de Janeiro and Salvador in that Olinda’s festival is best at daytime and features the music, dances and traditions of African culture. Olinda’s Carnival involves parades, lavish costumes, giant puppet dolls, street parties and the rhythms of maracatu and frevo.
However, even outside of the Carnival season, Olinda offers an animated culture where every weekend buzzes with parties, bars, nightclubs and singing groups who perform serenades of traditional songs in the streets.